"Kov-Ata" - The Bakharden Underground Lake
The Bakharden underground lake is
a natural sight in a cave about 100
Kilometers northwest of Ashgabat on
the northern slope of the Kopetdag.
The regional center, the village of
Geok-Teke (Green Hill), is located
approximately halfway between the
lake and Ashgabat. Its streets are
shadowed with tall leafy trees and its
yards are filled with fruit gardens.
The bus turns off the highway
towards the mountains. Soon we see
the entrance of the famous cave in
front of us. The Turkmen name for it
is "Kov-Ata", meaning 'The Father of
Caves'. Many legends are connected
with it, especially about the healing
powers of the lake's water.
Researchers have found that this
underground lake is the brother of the
warm sulphur-lime springs at
Archman, where a resort is located.
Both springs are the result of warm
weather, which emerges from fissures
in the rock in the Kopet Dag thermal
The cave begins with a large
opening a broad five-meter arch.
Somewhat higher there are two more
openings, but they can only be noticed
in cold water when steam rises from
them. From the entrance there is a
steep cement staircase along which
visitors descend to a large
underground area about ten meters
beneath the surface. Here one enters a
large area is like a magnificent
auditorium. The overall length of the
cave is 230 meters, its height goes up
to 20 meters, and its width is at some
points 57 meters.
The bottom of the cave is covered
with lumps of lime. Daylight only
enters the "ante chamber" of the cave.
As you approach the lake you feel the
air becoming damper and warmer.
From time to time you can hear
sounds of bats which inhabit the cave
in great abundance and are harmless,
yet perform the function of killing
many harmful insects.
The lake is located at a depth of 52
meters from the entrance on a vertical
line; it has an area of 2,700 square
meters and is up to 13 meters deep. It
is 72 meters long and about 30 meters
wide. The surface of the lake lies 60
meters beneath the surface of the
earth. Its warm, running water is clear
and emerald-colored. Even in artificial
lighting tiny stones at the bottom can
The water has constant temperature
between 35-37C. Analysis has shown that
it contains a complex combination of
chemical elements. Thirty different
elements have been found, to date. Their
unusual combination and the high
temperature suggest that the water have
biological activity. A dip in the water
refreshes the bather instantly. It would be
hard to resist taking a dip, whether in
Summer or winter. People come in large
number to take bath and for this purpose
changing booths and steps leading down
into the lake have been built on the shore.
Once the dip is over, everyone goes
towards the exit, benches have been set up
on various levels for people to sit down
and rest, for the ascent can be tiring.
The entrance is decorated with
ornamental cement blocks. Trees have
also been planted here. Very few visitors
to Ashgabat leave the city without visiting
this wonderful comer of Turkmenistan